Transport for London has announced it will carry out an independent review into the controversial ‘remote sign on’ requirement that means staff start work away from the depot, following complaints about exhaustion and pay cuts.
Transport for London (TfL) has paused bus drivers being able to sign in for work remotely after complaints of exhaustion among staff.
Unite announced that more than 4,000 bus drivers working for the Metroline bus company in London have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over the ‘remote sign-on’ policy.
The union said that unless ‘remote sign-on’ is scrapped completely, dates for strike action to begin will be announced soon – putting more pressure on Metroline and Tfl, who have so far only announced a pause and review of ‘remote sign-on’.
‘Remote sign-on’ refers to the practice of drivers meeting their bus and beginning their shift at a bus stop rather than reporting to the bus depot to start work. Unite says this practice is designed solely to reduce costs and boost the company’s profits, as bus drivers are only paid for they time they are actually behind the wheel. It is estimated that ‘remote sign-on’ equates to an average 7% cut in wages for affected workers.
Other complaints include drivers going unpaid if a bus they are scheduled to meet is delayed, as well as being left out in the open in unpredictable weather and the lack of access to toilets and canteens.
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan instructed the bosses at Transport for London (TfL) last month to introduce an immediate moratorium on the scheme, which will not be lifted until detailed research into ‘remote sign on’ is completed.
A total of 96 per cent of Metroline West and 97 per cent of Metroline Travel members have voted for strike action on Metroline routes which cover north and west London. The company employs about 16 per cent of all bus drivers in the capital.
Unite regional officer Mary Summer issued a warning to Tfl that strike action could commence as early as this month if ‘remote sign-on’ isn’t scrapped, saying:
“The bus drivers at Metroline have delivered a massive mandate for strike action over ‘remote sign-on’ which has serious health and safety implications for our members.
“This unpopular policy should be jettisoned immediately.
“We also strongly argue that there is no benefit to passengers and ‘remote sign-on’ could well cause disruption to services used by the hundreds of thousands of people who use buses every day to get to work and school.
“It is very disappointing that Metroline bosses are still actively considering ‘remote sign-on’, despite London Mayor Sadiq Khan ordering a moratorium on its introduction across the capital while a review is carried out.
“We welcomed the moratorium which is linked to the review by TfL. However, the message to the employers is that if they want to delay the review and play for time, so that our ballot mandate runs out then they can think again.
“Twice our members have voted overwhelmingly for strike action on this issue – this month and also last autumn by 97 per cent when we decided not to go-ahead for technical reasons.
“Unless we receive confirmation that ‘remote sign-on’ will be scrapped then we will issue notice for strike action which could take place as early as the end of this month.”